The Chinese Embassy lodged a diplomatic protest yesterday after Vice President Quayle met with a Chinese student leader who went underground after the Tiananmen Square massacre last year in Beijing.

The embassy called the student, Chai Ling, 24, a "criminal" and expressed "utmost indignation" that she was allowed to see Quayle and testify Wednesday before a Senate panel.

The Bush administration was clearly intent on according the Chinese pro-democracy protest leader a high-level welcome. Her meeting with Quayle ran almost three times its allotted 20 minutes.

Ling, who recently escaped from China after 10 months in hiding and has been granted asylum in France, met earlier in the week with President Bush's national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft. Richard Solomon, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, sat in on her session with Quayle.

She told reporters afterwards that she had stressed the importance of Voice of America broadcasts in getting the truth to the Chinese people, and urged that its broadcast signal be strengthened if possible. She also asked that the United States link any trade concessions to improvements in China's human rights record.

Quayle expressed hope that the Bush administration's trade policy with China will help improve that country's internal situation, his spokesman said.

Chinese Ambassador Zhu Qizhen met yesterday with Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger. Later, the embassy said in a statement that Ling was "a criminal wanted by the Chinese Public Security Department. Yet Vice President Quayle chose to meet her and the Senate of the U.S. Congress brazenly allowed . . . {a} forum to attack the Chinese government. The Chinese government and the people express their utmost indignation at this."

The embassy charged that the United States had "gravely violated the norms of international relations, and wantonly interfered in the internal affairs of China."